The Quest

The Baltimore Orioles have been in town since '54 and have had over 900 men don their uniform. My goal is to obtain a signed card of each player. If you have something I need, or see something you want, don't be shy, we can make a deal.

Collection Statistics

Total Players 877/977 = 89.25%
1991 Orioles Crown Set
Total Players 309/465 = 66.45%
Alive Players 274/369 = 74.25

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The New Signer

I have written before about my biggest pet peeve being people who try and exploit players autographs, this blog is about how players are combating that.

What's the easiest way to discourage someone from selling an autograph? Make it worthless. A player doesn't need to damage the card to make it worthless, just add a little more ink. Nothing will devalue a signature like personalization. People looking to turn a profit from autographs will have a difficult time finding a market for personalized autographs, especially if your name is Kirk.

I have heard stories of some older ballplayers notorious for this, giving them a bad rap in the autograph world. I love it. People like Doug Drabek were vilified for not having a "clean" autograph, but I care about the player's signature, not a profit.

In my limited success this spring I have noticed the Orioles pitching staff is all about personalizing their signatures. Jeremy Guthrie, Chris Tillman and David Hernandez all have personalized autographs for me. I am sure these guys are being berated with requests, both in person and TTM, and this is how they can ensure they aren't being exploited.

I am as guilty as anyone of sending multiple cards to have signed, but I am slightly different. I am merely trying to grow my inventory of cards to perpetuate further trade opportunities. If I only receive one signed card back it's cool, one is better than none. Maybe more players will follow their lead and I can get more cards signed, sounds good to me.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Four for Sisk

Doug Sisk donned an Orioes uniform during the 1988 season. Unfortunately his lone season in Baltimore was abismal for the team after starting the season with 21 straight losses. Sisk had a decent season, appearing in 52 games as a reliever and a .500 record. His ERA was third on the team among pitchers with more than ten appearances. After the season he became a free agent, landing with the Cleveland Indians, but never playing in a game for that club. His career ended in 1991 in a limited role with the Atlanta Braves.

Doug Sisk 1989 Score #264

Doug Sisk 1989 Topps # 13 (x2)

Doug Sisk 1991 Orioles Crown #422

Sisk has been extremely generous with his autographs, signing more than 90% of his requests. His short time in town makes card selection limited. It's a nice addition to the Crown set while giving me doubles 3-5.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cut From a Different Cloth Revisited

In the interest of full disclosure I must admit that I had no idea any of the following guys played for the Orioles at all. I fancy myself a devout fan, but even the most devout must have a few lapses in memory.

Winston Abreu 1999 Just #151
In his professional baseball career Abreu has been with 11 different clubs, and the Rays twice. His debut season was in 2006 witht he Orioles and lasted seven games. He is currently fighting for a spot on the Rays roster during spring training.

Greg Aquino 2003 Donruss The Rookies #14

Aquino makes Abreu look like a platoon player by registering nine games as an "O" in 2008. Aquino made the roster breaking camp but was sent back down to the minors after poor performances in April. He surfaced again before the All-Star break for another three game stint but his elevated ERA sent him down again. He finished his season with club before being picked up by the Cleveland Indians and having a decent year in relief.

Danny Ardoin 2007 Round Rock Express Team Card #9

Ardoin has the distinction of being drafted in three consecutive years, moving from the 41st to the 5th round with the Oakland A's. In 2006 he appeared in only five games here as a catcher after being claimed off waivers in August. Since Baltimore, he has been moved more than a few times, last appearing with the Dodgers in 2008.

Ryan Bukvich 2003 Upper Deck 40-Man #248

Keeping with the short timer trend, Bukvich pitched in only four games during June and July of 2008. His ERA hovered above 6.00 and the minor leagues came calling again. His stint in Baltimore was his last in the bigs.

Terry Clark 1989 Topps #129

The longest tenured Oriole of the group, he tallied a staggering 38 games for the Birds in 1995. He was signed in June to strengthen the bullpen for the stretch run and was up to the task. He registered a 3.46 ERA at the back end of the bullpen. After the season he was released, finishing his career as a Ranger, amid three other big league stops.

Ken Huckaby 2004 Oklahoma Redhawks Team Set #12

Huckaby was behind the plate for eight games in 2004, after being claimed off waivers from the Texas Rangers. He didn't hit well at all while he was here and was released just two months later, only to be picked back up by the Rangers.

Jon Leicester 2003 Leaf Second Edition #247

Ten of his career 48 appearances came donning the orange and black in 2007. His record and ERA weren't superb but he did manage a complete game victory in the mix of it all. Once leaving Baltimore he has been unable to crack another major league roster.

Ramon Nivar 2003 Playoff Prestige #210

Nivar breaks today's trend of pitchers and catchers, having only played center-field in June of 2005. In his seven games he hit over .300 but never had a chance to play consistently with veteran stalwarts in place. Nivar continues to play professionally, spending last season in the Dodger organization.

All told, eight autographs and 79 collective games, now that's what I call short timers.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Random Week of Cards

It has been a sparse week in cards with little consistency with what I received. My TTM requests have ground to a halt with very little success from spring training this year so trades are helping to grow my collection.

Tim Byrdak 2006 Orioles Postcard

Byrdak has had an eight year career but there have only been 20 baseball cards produced for him. All but three of them have been as a minor leaguer, making an Orioles card slightly difficult to find. Lucky for me he was a signer at FanFest in 2006. This card was acquired from another Baltimore sports fan for a Boog Powell autograph.

David Hernandez 2009 Topps 206

David Hernandez 2009 Topps Update & Highlights #UH-4

Hernandez made a splash last year in his rookie season leaving me hopeful for this year. It may be coincidence, or just that pitchers have more time between starts, but almost all of my spring training successes have been from pitchers. I like both autographs immensely and am not sure which to hold on to and which to trade, Any suggestions?

John Wasdin 1997 Fleer #574

My trading focus recently has been on players with little time in Baltimore and few or no cards as an Oriole. Wasdin is my latest card in exchange for a 1980 Topps Al Bumbry. Wasdin was signed mid-season 2001 then traded after the season. All told, he was a serviceable reliever in his 26 games, striking out nearly one batter an inning.

Adam Jones 2009 Sweet Spot Sweet Swatches

I was bored on a trading site and decided to pick up this card. I don't have a real need for it, but Jones is a star on the rise, I'll keep him.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


I have a bunch of trades coming through this week, mainly for players who haven't appeared on any cards as an Oriole. Today I received three players with a combined total of 59 games in Baltimore. I have always fancied myself a knowledgable Orioles fan but always seem to learn more about the team and players as I grow the collection. These additions are no different.

Jim Corsi 1990 Topps #623

Corsi finished a solid 10 year career following the 1999 season as a member of the Orioles. He was released by the Red Sox mid season and acquired by the O's for the stretch run. He continued his solid career while he was here, posting a sub 3.00 ERA in 13 relief appearances.

John DeSilva 1991 Bowman #148

You don't know who John DeSilva is? Probably because he only appeared in six games, for three teams over three years. He is epitomy of a player who was up for "a drink of water." He recorded his lone win in Baltimore on June 27th, 1995 against the Milwaukee Brewers. Needless to say his image was never immortalized in card form as an Oriole.

Tike Redman 2005 Fleer #212

Redman started his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates and patrolled their outfield from 2000-2005. He was a starter for the Bucs but never became a star before being bought by the New York Mets. He bounced from New York, to Detroit, to Houston, and to Boston before finding a spot in Baltimore. In 2007 he played 40 games for us, and played well in the outfield, but was released after the season. Not much to say about his career here but I question his choice of where to sign on this card. Black on black works for Regis, not for autographs.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Autograph Collecting Learning Curve

The Quest I have undertaken has narrowed my collection while broadening how I pursue it. Whereas before, I merely busted packs hoping for the cards with the best trade potential, I now have diverse ways to grow my collection.

The first branch was through the mail. This was the easy transition, take cards I had and send asking for autographs. Not rocket science and it was something I had tried slightly as a kid. TTM requests has been a huge facet of my collecting but the well will eventually run dry. Too many players are inconsistent, won't sign or can't be found to ask for an autograph. I have sent a ton of requests, seen a good number of returns but know the successes are slowing down.

Earlier this year I went back to in person requests at Orioles FanFest. The nature of the event was more structured than most autograph hounds are used to but had the excitement and unpredictability that is typical at the stadium. I will be making more trips to "The Yard" this season in hopes of acquiring the current players my collection is lacking.

While at FanFest I met a bunch of other Orioles collectors and learned about other collecting tactics, namely the 50/50. I understood the principal of 50/50, half, I get it, I just had never heard of it with regards to collecting. It's a cool concept, just seems a little lopsided when big ticket items are being used. I collect cards so its not a big deal, unfortunately the people willing to do a 50/50 only want jerseys or bats that can bring more money (my opinion). Few people want to do a 50/50 for Miguel Tejada cards, just Matt Weiters or Brian Matusz jerseys.

I did a 50/50 for spring training with Scott Moore just to try it. I may have been able to get him TTM as well but figured I would give it a try. At least this way I was guaranteed to get my card back and I did, signed. Go me.

Using has unearthed another way to grow my collection, if only indirectly. Blind trading is sending any number of random cards to a trader for the same number of randoms in return. This may not make much sense but for me it seems to fit well. I only send to Orioles, and typically only have Orioles cards to send. This ensures that an Oriole card will come back signed, but also makes sure all my doubles are of Orioles. Trading has proven slightly difficult when people collect from other teams, so I am working on it. I have a blind trade that should come in next week, we'll see what it yields.

Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks? I'm learning.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Finally, An Autographed Babe Card

Yesterday I received my strangest success to date. Actually my wife did, and that is partly why it's strange.

I sent to Babe Birrer in 2008 with my first batch of Orioles Crown cards. There had been successes with him around this time, but nothing since. I figured the card was lost and I wouldn't get it back. I was even looking to trade for the card on, but hadn't pulled the trigger.

Then, yesterday afternoon I get a call from my wife about a weird letter she received. Immediately I thought of the worst, summons, lawsuit, divorce papers, I had no clue. Then she described it's contents and I was a little confused.

She said "it has one of your little cards inside, but it's taped to an index card. I don't think I can get it off." It seems that someone, presumably Mr. Birrer taped the 1991 Orioles Crown card to part of an index card. I guess for more strength during shipping, but for risk of damaging the card I will leave it.

The weirdness does not end there. The success was not sent in my traditional SASE, it was from the Activities Department of a nursing home in New York and was addressed to my wife, using her maiden name. Needless to say she was slightly weirded out by it, but was put to ease when we realized I probably addressed it with some of those free address labels for The Shriners. The letter was addressed by a definitely feminine hand, much different than Mr. Birrer's on the card, my guess a nurse or family member.

Here is my 1/1 Babe Birrer 1991 Orioles Crown #??? Wait I can't read the number there is an index card covering it. It is difficult to see all the details of the card in the scan.

Babe Birrer 1991 Orioles Crown #35
Babe's career spanned four calendar years and three major league seasons with the Detroit Tigers, Orioles and Brooklyn Dodgers. He earned the nickname "Babe" during 1955 with the Tigers when he hit two 3-run home runs during a relief appearance. As a reliever in 1956 he only appeared in four games with the Orioles before being bought by the Dodgers. During his big-league career he did hold Yogi Berra, Felipe Alou and Ernie Banks hit less against him, in limited at-bats.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Halfway Home

I have met my first collection goal with yesterdays successes of David Segui, Al Bumbry and Paul Mitchell. Finally, I have 50% of all players from the 1991 Crown set that are still alive. It feels great to achieve a goal, but I still have a long way to go.

By the end of the 2010 baseball season I hope to eclipse the 50% marker in all other facets of the collection. I am only 33 cards away from halfway on the entire Crown set and by my calculations a mere 62 from the middle point of the all-time roster. Unfortunately with the season a few weeks away the all-time roster will slowly increase, pushing me further away.

For the first time in almost five years I truly love collecting again. My player collections had stalled and I was merely going through the motions. I haven't focused on my Brian Roberts collection in months and am pretty sure I will liquidate that collection during the season. The history of the team and learning more about each player is what has me hooked.

Bring on the next milestone.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

This Week In Baseball...Cards

Pedro Beato 2007 Bowman Sterling Jersey Autograph #BSP-PB

Call this a little prospecting. Beato has been in the Orioles farm system since 2006, making it as high as Bowie last season. Hopefully he can crack the Major League roster and make the jump to the personal collection. His numbers haven't been great but he is only 23 with a lot of upside.

Al Bumbry 1991 Orioles Crown #60

My second time sending to Bumbry has landed his Crown card in my collection. This success took just under two months arriving with some unexpected guests below. Bumbry was a 13 year Oriole, All-Star, World Series Champion, fan favorite and overall great guy. He still lives in the Baltimore area and can be found at all sorts of Orioles events, always ready to spend time with the fans.

Al Bumbry 1983 Topps #655

Al Bumbry 1984 Topps #319

These two Topps cards were add-ons from Mr. Bumbry. They aren't in the best shape but you can't argue with free.

Rick Burleson 1991 Orioles Crown #63

The last recorded success from Rick Burleson was in November of 2008, so I am quite grateful to get this back signed, and in only five months. I guess the 2009 Harvey autograph list was worth the investment. Burleson was a middle-infielder who ended his 11 year career in Baltimore after the 1987 season as a career .273 hitter. From 1977-79 Burleson was named to the American league All-Star team and again in 1981, with 79 also bringing his only Gold Glove.

Brandon Fahey 2006 Bowman Draft Picks #BDP-23

Brandon Fahey 2006 Topps '52 #98

Fahey may have looked more like a bat-boy than a ballplayer when he came up with the Orioles but he was a gritty player. He became a fan favorite probably because of his slight frame and his tenacity on the field. He filled whatever role the Orioles needed and did so admirably. He has only seen time in the bigs as an Oriole but is still around the game working for another opportunity.

Paul Mitchell 1991 Orioles Crown #309

Mitchell was the Orioles first round selection in the 1971 amateur draft, picked seventh overall. His debut came in 1975 against the Boston Red Sox with 3.1 innings and five earned runs. The O's eventually pulled out the win, Mitchell earning a no decision. Mitchell turned it around and went 3-0 in his 11 games before being traded to the Oakland A's as part of the Reggie Jackson deal.

David Segui 1991 Orioles Crown #412

Segui is a great signer. I went 5 for 5 this time with the Crown card in the mix. In my requests I stress the importance of the Crown card to my collection and ask for it to be signed above all else. Segui actually read my letter before signing and the Crown card is the without his usual inscription MATT 16:26. After all of my bitching last week it seems there are players out there that do take the time. My faith has been restored.

David Segui 1991 Fleer #492

David Segui 1991 Upper Deck #342

David Segui 1992 Donruss #321

David Segui 1992 Topps #447

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Old Switch-A-Roo

Such a fake-out today when I got home from a wonderful 2+ hours at the dentist. It started normal enough with my self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) in the mail box but quickly turned bad. Ty Wigginton of the O's returned a card to me that I did not send and frankly have zero use for.

I sent a nice letter about how much I loved the ORIOLES and my collection of ORIOLES autographs. What I received was a Ty Wigginton METS Autograph. I can see how he got the two teams confused. One team is orange and black while the other blue and orange. Almost identical color schemes.

I am glad to see that the hand written letter I sent struck such a chord with him that he forgot about me seconds later when placing a different card in my envelope. I know I am not his only request and he has other things to do, like get ready for the season, all I was asking for was 40 seconds of his time.

I don't want to come off like a jack-ass, as I am happy with any ballplayer who takes the time to sign for me, but I am disappointed. Maybe I should just put cards in an envelope with a SASE, no letter, no personal touch and hope for the best. I should get something in return, right? At least I would be able to send out 400+ to spring training like a guy I saw on an autograph site.

Anyone interested in this autograph? I would like to upgrade to, lets say, a 2009 Topps version of the Oriole player.
Ty Wigginton 2004 Upper Deck First Pitch #218 (METS)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Cut From a Different Cloth

Many past Orioles have had a very short tenure in town not allowing for their likeness to be captured on any baseball cards as an Oriole. I made a trade this week that focused on players that fit this mold. A few of these players have made appearances on Orioles Postcards or minor league affiliates cards which are not readily available. Because it is difficult to find these cards, let alone get them signed, these versions will do for now. If anyone has mid 1990's Orioles Postcards for trade I am very interested.

Kevin Bass 1992 Topps #513 (Giants)

Kevin Bass ended his 14 year major league career in the Baltimore Outfield. Even though he spent a full season here he had no major cards produced just an Oriole Postcard I have never seen.

LaTroy Hawkins 1995 Action Packed #28 (Twins)

After a stable nine year career in Minnesota, LaTroy has bounced around to six teams in only five years. Baltimore was his home in 2006 where he posted respectable numbers from the pen. He was the set-up man for closer Chris Ray and he excelled in this role. He does have a 2006 Upper Deck card as an Oriole that I am trying to get and have signed, but haven't succeeded yet.

2004 Upper Deck Rookie Class #94 (Yankees)

Henn has hopped from team to team since his debut in 2005 with the Yankees. Last season he appeared in just six games from September until season's end. His short stint here was not even the shortest, having spent four games in San Diego in 2007. Henn is now a Blue Jay having been claimed off waivers after the final game last year. Needless to say a September trade and six games doesn't allow for much time to have an Orioles card made. Unfortunately I have a Yankee card in my collection, yuck.

J.R. House 2002 Bowman #155 (Pirates)

House could never get his offense in gear. He started his career with a hit in Pittsburgh and over his next four seasons only garnered nine more, eight of which as an O in 2007. He is one of the players without any card featuring him as a Bird, insert Pirates card here.

Ray Miller 1986 Topps #381 (Twins)

Miller was the manager here for the 1998-99 seasons with mediocre success. He finihsed his career here slightly below .500. Now I am longing for the days of four games under .500. There are no Oriole manager cards of him, but many postcards from his time as a coach here do exist.

Yorkis Perez 1992 Donruss #754 (Cubs)

Maybe it is just me but I have seen a lot of players end longer careers in Baltimore. The last 20 years or so has seen Baltimore become a wasteland for free agents past the peak of their careers. Oddly enough Perez had his second best season for ERA before calling it quits. I am trying to find his 2002 Rochester Red Wings minor league card for my collection, their last season in the Orioles system.

Luis Polonia 1994 Topps #566 (Angels)

Two-time World Champion Luis Polonia spent 58 games in town during the 1996 season. He won his first ring in Atlanta in 1995, then came here, only to return to Atlanta and another World Series by season's end. To me, his .293 lifetime batting average is very surprising. I've always thought of him in a Jose Lind mold, never burning up the stat sheet, just getting the job done. That was the kind of player I remember him to be while he was here.

Pete Smith 1988 Donruss #571 (Braves)

Smith ended his 11 year career mainly in the Orioles bullpen as the team was frantically grasping to stay afloat in the A.L East. He only appeared in 27 games as the Orioles struggled to reach .500, ultimately finishing just below. He has a ton of cards, just none as a member of my home town team.

Willie Morales 2000 Fleer Tradition Update #U-33

Morales is the only Oriole card involved in the recent trade. His major league career spanned five months in 2000 but was only 3 games. He spent the next four seasons playing in the minors for other franchises before ultimately hanging up the spikes in 2004.